Masoud Najafi Ardabili, In the Absence of Grotowski
A Study of Post Grotowski Theatre in Poland
Any method which does not itself reach out into the unknown is a bad method. J.Grotowski (tbt 131)
The most important concept that Grotowski created in the period theatre of productions in his work was the idea of Poor Theatre that became a sort of bible in the second half of twentieth century theatre. We can say that all theatres which are mentioned in this text, somehow are influenced by Grotowski even if they opposed him and his concepts of theatre. Therefore, it would be useful if we take a very fast look at this concept of Poor Theatre. In 1962, Flaszen for the first time used this term in an article about Akropolis; he described “ It is absolutely forbidden to introduce in to a play anything which is not already there at the very beginning” (?-75) The whole idea started with a very essential question; as Grotowski said: “We are seeking to define what is distinctively theatre, what separates this activity from other categories of performances and spectacles.” (movie) Grotowski asserts that theatre can exist without any accoutrements, needing only the live communion between actor and spectator, two groups of people. The relationship between the actors and spectators; the interpersonal situation in fact, “we call it theatrical doctorin: The Poor Theatre.” (movie)
In the other side of the idea of The Poor Theatre must be Rich Theatre “Poor Theatre can best be understood in relation to Rich Theatre,” (slowiak-13) referring to the number of other artistic disciplines and elements involved in a theatre production. In the famous article by Grotowski named “Towards a Poor Theatre” he wrote: “By gradually eliminating whatever proved superfluous, we found that there can exist theatre without make-up, without autonomic costume and scenography, without a separate performance area (stage), without lighting and sound effects, etc. It cannot exist without the actor-spectator relationship of perceptual, direct, “live” communion. This is an ancient theoretical truth, of course, but when rigorously tested in practice it undermines most of our usual ideas about theatre. It challenges the notion of theatre as a synthesis of disparate creative disciplines- literature, sculpture, painting, architecture, lighting, acting (under the direction of a metteur-en-scene). The “synthesis theatre” is the contemporary theatre, which readily call the Rich Theatre- rich in flaws.” (sourcebook, 32)
Productions, in 13 rows Theatre, are detailed investigations of the actor-audience relationship and The Tragic History of Dr. Faustus was the best example at the time. “We consider the personal and scenic technique of the actor as the core of theatre art.” And in Akropolis, there were the whole mature idea of The Poor Theatre and became one of the most famous theatre productions in the century; traveled almost all over the world.
The second important concept in The Poor Theatre is the idea of actor’s training: Via Negativa. Grotowski said: “we don’t want to teach the actor a predetermined set of skills or give him a “bag of tricks” ours is not a deductive method of collecting skills. The result is freedom from the time-lapse between inner impulse and outer reaction in such a way that the impulse is already an outer reaction. Ours then is a via negativa… an eradication of blocks.” (? ?) In the work with Cieslak in the production of The Constant Prince they could show this idea with a high quality of work and collaboration between actor and director, one of the fundamental parts of Grotowski’s work forever: Actor-Director encounter. “We take away from the actor that which shuts him off, but we do not teach him how to create…” (tpt 129). The Poor Theatre ended up with the production of Appocalipsis Cum Figuris as the last one in this period of Grotowski’s work and a sort of transition for the next phase of his work that called Paratheatre.
Apocalypsis Cum Figuris
In an empty room, only the spectators and actors defined the space; stage objects were reduced to a loaf of bread, a knife, a white cloth, candles and the bucket of water. (Slowiak, 26) Apocalypsis Cum Figuris demonstrated Grotowski’s Poor Theatre at the highest level; and was the last production had been produced by Teatr Laboratorium in 1969, in Wroclaw. It was a kind of transition to the next period of Grotowski’s work that he called it “Paratheatre”. For the first time there was no exact text; the actual text was put together only during the final stage of rehearsal; selected from Dostoevski’s Brothers Karamazov, T.S Eliot ‘s “the wasteland” and Simon Weil.
During many years staging this performance until 1980, there were many transitions; for example the with costumes changed to normal daily costumes, The benches were removed and spectators sat or stood around the periphery of the space. The most important innovation was the aspect of non-pretending. The themes of personal honesty and renunciation were made palpable in the theatre space and a new relationship between actors and spectators, based on sincerity not pretence.
Grzegorz Bral once said that “ when I was a kid I saw two performances which changed my life, that’s why I decided to be a performer in my life… I saw Apocalipsis Cum Figuris with my mother; it was fantastic and amazingly deep and penetrative…” Waclaw Sobaszek saw this performance on stage and said “ This performance was incredible, musicality and the experience of voice working was the first time in my life, at that time…” This performance influenced many people, artists and theatres in Europe and the world as well; but Grotowski himself was at the edge of a big transition and the next step for him was the idea of Paratheare.
Paratheatre means, literally, alongside theatre, on the border of theatre, or expanding its limits. It is sometimes paired with The Active Culture.
In December 1970, just eleven years after Grotowski and Flaszen established Teatr Laboratorium in Opole, he announced his departure from the professional field of theatrical activity. At that point he defined his activities and searches as: “The quest for what is most essential in life… something like a second birth, real, overt, not furtive, not complacent about one’s seclusion. Together with someone, with a few, in a group-the discovering of yourself and him.” (? 117-119)
When a write writes a book, the book will be written by his life, his faith, his struggles with himself, by the entire him and by what he knows about himself and the others and as well by what he doesn’t know about himself or others. This is an unusual process that begins, the process of great importance in the person’s life. We call this process: The Active Culture.
Normally The Active Culture results in a creation, for example a book that is ready to be read by the others. This result is something that we call it: Passive Culture. When I read this book, this is a Passive Culture. The process of creation is before results. It is the same in theatrical works as well. For example during rehearsals in Appocalipsis Cum Figuris, what happened among us was The Active Culture; the effort to prepare a performance at that moment changed it to Passive Culture. We decided to make the whole process accessible…
The acting, both stage and daily life, can be given u at least for a moment. This process is very special, we call it The Active Culture. The idea is: to let people experience the process of creation. Our aim is: “to open up for people what previously was an experience restricted only for creators.” Of course there will be a creation limitation here, the comparison of the work during rehearsals (The Active Culture) and the performance ( Passive Culture) is related because in fact the rehearsals must inevitably lead to a performance, to the creation… and this is the difference, because in The Active Culture the creation is a process: what is happening among people, that’s why everything is unique and unrepeatable; this can’t be repeated as a performance.
in order to be out of city, out of any sort of human communication which meant disturbance for him; the place was at least three kilometers far from the first house, at the middle of the forest. He was enough well-known in the entire world to ask Polish government (PRL) to give him a free land near a village called Brzezinka. He moved to Brzezinka in order to work on Paratheare and later came Theatre of Sources; they had just a cottage with a very little kitchen near it. The place was unique and amazingly useful for his purpose because if you go there even now, you can see how isolated place there is.
Special Project 1
Staniewski and Gardzienice 1
W.Staniewski in opposition
There was a big opposition between W.Staniewski and Grotowski in 1977 during Paratheatre period of work, in Teatr Laboratorium, mostly in Brzezinka. This opposition for Staniewski ended up leaving Brzezinka, Wroclaw and Teatr Laboratorium and establishing a new Theatre company which we know as The Center for Theatre Practices of Gardzienice now. The conflict was very important in the study of Post Grotowski and Post Gardzienice theatre as well. That’s why I am trying to show how different are terms: “Post Grotowski” and “Post Gardzienice” and I would like to prove that there is no “Post Grotowski” theatre or beliefs in Poland, even when he was working in Wroclaw, but all of them are a sort of “Post Gardzienice” so I will try to show this conflict.
For Grotowski studding about human being was the most important point in his work; he wanted to put humanity inside and at the middle of a laboratory, just like he described in the famous chapter of Towards a Poor Theatre named Methodical exploration: “ To do research such as this is to place oneself already on the border of scientific disciplines such as phonology, psychology, cultural anthropology, semiology, etc.” (tpt 129) Therefore, he established Brzezinka.
As I mentioned before, W.Staniewski and his colleagues established The Center for Theatre Practices in Gardzienice which was an unknown village at that time in eastern part of Poland; they wanted to go out of city, streets, buildings; they ran away from conventional theatres, spectators and actors. They started to live in nature and preparing naturalized actors with special trainings in the forest, hills and untouched natural environment; at the same time doing expeditions and socializing with villagers in order to learn songs, exchange culture and find the Polish identity which was lost at that time, or at least they thought it was lost during recent political history. They never accepted by villagers very well, there was always a deeply strong conflict in their work in the villages even in Gardzienice, the village that they live in it; they invited their own spectators from cities and university professors, anthropologists, critics theatrologists and etc. In fact they were living in a village but working for cities, even we can say universities and critics; their work and productions were extremely intellectual and deeply
Actor’s training 6
Working with text and performative inventions 6
Waclaw Sobaszek was born in 1953, in the south of Poland near the mountains. He studied Art History in Warsaw University and during his studies became very interested in the performing arts. Participating in Paratheatre projects in Teatr Laboratorium in Wroclaw and Brzezinka influenced and inspired him to start his own creative process in this field. He participated in Special Project which was conducted by Ryczard Cieslak in Brzezinka and there he met Tomasz Rodowicz, one of the founders of Teatr Gardzienice,who later became a friend. This period of time is important to analyze the work and new perceptions of Teatr Wegajty and Inna Szkola teatralna (Different Theatre School) in the wider perspective. Firstly, it was at this period of his life that Sobaszek first encountered Teatr Laboratorium and Jerzy Grotowski,which were to become his significant early influences, as they were for the majority of alternative artists and companies at this time. Secondly the very late ‘Hippy’ wave in Poland influenced Sobaszek and his generation, leading them out of the cities to live together in creative village communities; getting their food from the earth and engaging in collective creation as well. Considering the Communist government, censorship, restrictions and all limits were made by them could support this concept. On the other hand there were many artists following philosophers like Gurdjieff, trying to be practical and do something objective instead of being theoretical and subjective. This objectivity and keeping distance with theories was the main string connecting all these theatres together, but of course there were many different approaches in practice. For example, method of working with actors was maybe the most important difference and most significant conflict between Grotowski and Staniewski. The main point to prove this hypothesis that in Poland there are mostly post Gardzienice theatres instead of post Grotowski.
When Wacek (Waslaw Sobaszek)graduated from Warsaw University, there was a chance to start working in Olsztyn, a city in the eastern part of Poland, in a sort of Cultural House. As he says: “at that time we started working in Culture House in Olsztyn, we made one of the most alternative Culture Houses in Poland… we prepared a really alternative program and many artists helped us like Grotowski himself…”. His career started as a director and actor, and from this early time he was interested in singing and musicality in performing arts. His friendship with T.Rodowicz was influential indeed, who was one of the main creators of Teatr Gardzienice at that time (which later became The Center for Theatre Practices) and who invented many famous exercises related to singing and voice training.
On one occasion while he was working in the Culture House of Olsztyn in 1979, Wacek invited a very young alternative theatre from a village near Lublin, called Gardzienice, the same region in eastern part of Poland, in 1979; that time he was working in Culture House of Olsztyn. We know that Wacek and Tomek and Mariusz Golaj had met each other in Paratheatre projects in Wroclaw and Brzezinka so they knew each other from before. Performers from Gardzienice were preparing Evening Performance (Spektakl Wieczorny) and going on expeditions as well, creating “The Center for Theatre Practices of Wlodzimierz Staniewski”. Wacek says “ I was in a small Fiat with a driver, we were in a village and actors from Gardzienice were training in early morning, singing and acrobatics, they were rehearsing Evening Performance… I heard the voice and songs, they were amazingly beautiful and totally new voices to my ears… I joined them for training and after that we went together on expeditions in villages looking for songs… It was the first idea of expedition I have ever heard…”. Ten years later in 1989 Wacek started his own expeditions with Teatr Wegajty (Inna Szkola Teatralna), of course in a slightly different way and with a slightly different aim.
Wacek and Mutka (Erdmunt Sobaszek, his German wife) moved to village Wegajty in 1982 during the time of the military government in Poland (which started with Jarozelwski) in order to live in peace, trying to escape from the political pressures and cultural chaos which was present all over Poland. Wacek says “they didn’t want us to work in Olsztyn. They even agreed to pay us monthly as before but asked us not to do anything… the show must not go on… we decided to move to Wegajty…”. Around 1986 they established Teatr Wielski Wegajty (Village Theatre Wegajty) which was supposed to be a theatre in village Wegajty with the aim of continuing the work they had started in Olsztyn. However after a while they decided to invite new performers to prepare new performances, simply because their colleagues couldn’t manage come to Wegajty. Performances which were produced during years there (seven performances) could be a subject for another research, but I prefer to follow the chronological line that gave birth to Inna Szkola Teatralna. Shortly after Wacek started his work in Wegajty, he decided to change the name of theatre to Teatr Wegajty, implying that they didn’t want to remain ‘village theatre’ anymore. In order to reach this aim, they started to define some workshops according to the parallel work on performances; these workshops later became the main part of their work and nowadays workshops are more famous than performances in the field of theatre in Poland and there are many scholarships have been done by students and scholars about them. These workshops were dedicated to adapt a sort of “deconstruction of traditions”. In order to reach this purpose they founded IST which stand for “Different Theatre School” and invited youngsters from universities and also non-actors to prepare presentations in different workshops.
Today, in IST there are three main workshops in a calendar year which are: Koleda, precisely in Christmas time, which involves singing, dancing and presentation with puppets going house -by- house in villages mostly near Wegajty; Zapusty, at the end of winter, a kind of presentation with puppets, songs and gatherings and dances; a final event in carnival tradition which is adapted to be performed in one day; Alilujka, in Easter time, in order to welcome spring; house –-by- house presentation, singing, dancing and gathering in two villages far from Wegajty called Dziadowek and Stabienszczyzna. I participated in Zapusty and Alilujka in the season 2009 and will try to describe my experiences and my issues about their work.
The main concept of the performance that was created by Wacek, the director and founder of Teatr Wegajty, is to deconstruct traditions. He aims to deconstruct traditions in order to preserve, and at the same time adapt them for a modern audience and a new generation who may know nothing about them; calls this ‘alter tradition’. Wacek explained this ideas follows: “we have globalization and traditions at the same time in front of each other in a big conflict; at the edge between them we can create alter tradition or alter globalization, something based on traditions but adapted for our time and our needs, we call it alter culture.” In this way Wacek can work on tradition and modern creative ideas as well, at the same time. Reinstalling man’s contact with the local earth and culture it gives life to is important; as he explains: “we wanted to find our relationship to the ground again…”.
Poland did not appear on the map of Europe for one hundred and thirty two years, suffered violence and extreme privation during two world wars. Russian occupation, the harsh regime of the Communist government. This government’s propaganda promulgated the idea of one tribe with one and the same culture, not in variations in terms of local and folkloric culture. All of this can be seen to spur on the artist’s search for a distinctive Polish identity, local traditional practices, language and even ‘culture’ – as a need to assert the self and individuality at the midst of war, occupation and repression. Culture, religion and language where seen as the three elements that could rescue the phenomenon of Polish being during the long years of conflict and chaos. The question, for these artists, was: “what is the real Polish identity?”
Artists from different areas started to look for very local, folkloric creations in order to find differences between regions ( in contrast to the Communist propaganda mentioned above); they wanted to know exactly what and where is Polish identity, Polish culture. Therefore, I think the trend to undertake expeditions in exotic villages, specially on the borders with Lithuania, Ukraine and Belorussia and also to reconstruct dances, songs, traditions related to Catholicism, happened in order to find Polish forgotten identity behind that mixture. In these three countries in particular, there are lots of Polish cultural elements mixed together; political borders are always different with cultural borders specially when they are always changing during wars and occupations. This is what exactly started in Gardzienice (even if we believe that they did not continue this for very long) and has continued in Wegajty; looking for Polish Identity.
Wacek once said: “this world was growing and growing and then another interest came: adaptation of traditions. At the end of 1990th reconstruction wasn’t enough because it seemed to be just reconstruction of the past. For today and tomorrow we need adaptation not mechanical but creative, cognitive process. The bird gets to know the wind, adapting shape of the wings to it…”. Here the main questions come: How can we adapt these traditions and in which direction? And which traditions? Is there any living Polish tradition yet? The whole thirty-three years of the work of Teatr Wegajty has been a practical answer to all these questions, and of course they found their own answers. We can take a closer look at their practical actions and the result they received.
I would like to insist that I recognize Teatr Wegajty as a Post Gardzienice theatre not Post Grotowski. In addition, I do not recognize them as an independent theatre because we can find many roots related to concepts that came from Gardzienice. Of course we cannot put a creative work and process in words and define it precisely, but we can find contexts, backgrounds and concepts growing in a creative work; otherwise we cannot explain their work.
There is another issue which is very important here about Teatr Gardzienice, Teatr Wegajty and all their followers in Poland. After all these years, do Poles still need to think about identity, tribes and differences in language, religion and culture? During the 1980th this was a way to resist the Communist regime and simultaneously to look for something really forgotten; the pioneer theatres, like Gardzienice and Teatr Wegajty, and their followers, had significant motivation – but is this the case today? In the European Union, taking the Euro as the single currently and opening its borders within the Euro zone; but still this question is present: what about culture? We know that culture is a live phenomenon. For example we cannot say that Poland has no Communist culture just because the Communist government came to an end in 1989 and politically there is no P.R.L anymore. Poland as a post Communist country is fighting and sometimes trying to get rid of this culture, even two decades later. Therefore, some hold that cultural activities may accelerate this struggle, or we can say overcoming. This coin has another side as well; according to culture, it seems impossible to overcome borders. For example Polish people are really religious, at least according to my experience and researches in different cities, and this cannot fit with secular culture in western European countries very easy; the same argument is present about language and literature and other cultural products. I think that’s why Gardzienice was born in Poland, in a very Polish part of the country; there was no such a theatre in other countries in Europe, at that time for sure and that’s why there are many young theatres following them during past thirty years in Poland. The reason is Gardzienice was born in a cultural background that was specially in Poland present at the time. There are a lot of young artists and theatre companies were influenced by Gardzienice during work or workshops; and nowadays we can see new wave theatres, in term of being alternative, comes as the third generation after second world war to answer this question; they called Post Gardzienice Theatres. And the question is still present.
Zapust is name of a heavenly prince who comes from a faraway, happy and rich country; he visits houses and his coming is connected with magic; this is a very old traditional Polish song:
“Gdzie Zapust chodzi,
Tam wszystko sie urodzi;
Gdzie Zapust nie chodzi,
Tam nic sie nie urodzi.”
“Where Zapust comes,
There, everything goes well
Where he doesn’t come,
There, everything goes wrong.”
Usually it must be the last day of carnival, the last ceremony full of drinking and dancing; using puppets in traditional simple shows and singing. In Teatr Wegajty, Zapusty is the name of a workshop dedicated to deconstructin of some traditional songs, dances and puppet shows in order to celebrate the coming of spring. They prepare a sort of presentation during a five days workshop with around fifteen participants; four days working and creating and the fifth day presenting scenes and final performance and evening gathering in the main space of the theatre.
It is seven o’clock in the afternoon, Saturday 7th February 2009. We are all gathered in a barn next to the main space of the theatre, in a village called Wegajty and of course the same name for the theatre too; “Inna Szkola Teatralna” suppose to be a “Different Theatre School” established as a part of Teatr Wegajty in order to create and conduct three main workshops in a year. All of us are ready and energetic with all Puppets and clothes we need to perform Zapusty 2009. For some seconds we do a synergy and drink a shot of vodka together and the final scene of Zapusty starts, the final scene with audience in front of us, people gathered in the main place of the theatre. We all walk into the open space singing and dancing. Fire-works start as well, I am riding the white horse(szemla) wearing a mask and breathing is a bit difficult. People come out and follow us climbing a hill through the forest. We sing and walk with audience, Wacek plays Accordion and Mutka plays Clarinet, flute and violin as well; everybody who can play an instrument is supposed to join the music; torches make fire and illuminate the place, the space is full of energy. After ten minutes we come back to the barn and the first scene of Zapusty, according to its structure, is Szemla, the white horse, with the master of circus.
When Wacek is directing workshop and rehearsals, he always asks everybody to try puppets and songs; in this way all participants have this chance to perform with the puppets or sing the songs. This also facilitates him to decide who is the best to perform that puppet or sing this song. Generally there is not any pressure and as a participant you can decide which part would you like to join or which part you prefer to stay out and be in chorus. I would like to clarify that during rehearsals and of course performance, there is no one out of the action as a spectator (between participants) because Wacek and Mutka ask everybody to join in order to help the scene and action, no matter how simple; and one can feel free to one’s own way of participating. This is the first important element (let’s not say rule) in their directing style.
There is another important issue in the style of practical work of Wacek as a director which I think is strongly related to W.Staniewski and deeply rooted in Grotowski’s and Osterwa’s work (in Reduta) as well. He never describe the role or scene even songs; he never explains anything before you try to do it. One can learn how to do it while doing it; as Grotowski mentioned “… to learn something means to conquer it in practice. One must learn through doing and not through memorization of ideas and theories…”. (T.R 3) Then he gives his remarks when he feels you tried the part and did your best so now you can improve your work with his instructions. Of course there are some misunderstandings in his work as well, which I will discuss later.
In the third day of the workshop, Wacek started with Szemla; he came and said “ok… now we have the white horse… who wants to try it?”. As usual one of the participants who was experienced with Zapusty in last years performed the puppet and then that question came again: “who is the next?”. This time I went to perform the white horse. The puppet was a bit heavy and running and jumping with that really needed energy. I played with Szemla and Mutka was the master of circus, the person who should conduct the horse on stage. After a while I performed the horse puppet again but this time with Moti, a participant from Israel. Moti was really good in playing the master of circus; he was experienced with fire work and juggling as well and fitted this role very much. Anyway Wacek decided to keep us as a couple together in order to perform this puppet; after a while we played together in mask scene as well and became the symbol of unity in cultural work: Israel and Iran, the most exotic people in Wegajty and also from the most opposed political backgrounds, now playing together; so we had lots of fun performing together and almost every night after daily work we all had a sort of gathering to talk, laugh and release our energy round the table.
The prince Zapust is well-known in many regions of Poland, and has different distinctive features in different religions. For example in Krakow he is depicted as warning a sheepskin coat turned inside-out, with the wool to the exterior; in Kurpie, Prince Zapust is shown as jumping on wooden horse. There is a mask to show prince Zapust in our show.
I start to perform the horse with the entire energy I have, master of circus uses a chair and asks me (Szemla) to jump as a horse, I do it and then comes second jump, a bit higher. Tradition says that I should ignore jumping for two times and at the third time I can jump successfully, so I do it exactly as the same; in traditional performances there are always conventions and Tradition which should be kept and played by performers. Music is playing by Wacek and Mutka and its rhythm helps us; audience claps and I have to stand somewhere, in front of them, change my mask to perform Prince Zapust this time. One friend comes to help me changing mask and Mutka (she always sing this part herself) starts singing instead of me:
“Jestem Zapust czarodziejski ksiaze,
Z dalekiego kraju daze,
Z kraju dalekiego,
Z kraju szczesliwego,
Z kraju szczesliwego,
Z kraju bogatego.”
“I am Zapust, the prince
I come from a country faraway from here,
From a far country,
From a happy country,
From a happy country,
From a rich country.”
The master of circus and I slowly leave the space and change costumes to prepare ourselves for the next scene. The next puppet is the stork, coming with a very rhythmical melody walking and showing herself to audience. Her partner will meet her and feed her a piece of bread; this is an important moment that is best performed in silence. The stork takes the bread in her beak and then music starts again, and Mutka starts a song in German:
“Storch, storch, heini
Mit dini langi beini,
Mit din rote knie,
’Sischt a kipferl, a haberdi”
“Stork Stork, ‘heini’
With your long legs
With your red beak
See this bread and take it”
Immediately after the stork comes a simple mask representing the character of winter, wishing the best for audience and saying good bye; it means that winter is going and spring comes. This mask is held by one hand, covering the face of the performer. The performer should improvise words in a structure like this, directly to the audience around him/her:
Na szczescie, na zdrowie,
Zeby wam sie rodziwa kapusta I groch,
Zeby stal snop przy snopie,
Kopa przy kopie,
A gospodarz pomiedzy kopami
Jako miesiac pomiedzy geiazdami.
Zeby bylo tyle wolkow,
Ile w plocie kolkow,
Tyle owiec, ile w lesie mrowiec.
Zebyscie byli weseli
Jako w niebie anieli
“Here is to fortune and health,
And big crops of cabbage and beans,
So a sheaf shall stand by sheaf
Haycock by haycock
And the owner/farmer between haycocks
Will be like moon between the stars
And oxen to be as many
As pegs in a paling
And sheep as many as ants in a forest,
Here it is to you to rejoice,
like angels in heaven”
At this moment we all come to the main room of the theatre and the audience follows us, takes a seat or remains standing to see the next scenes. They are familiar with the structure, after ten years performing Zapusty in Wegajty and are looking forward to the coming scenes. The next puppet is the goat, coming from the main entrance of theatre space very energetically to a very musical fast rhythm. Before the goat we should lead the audience from the barn to the main room of the theatre next to it, while singing and dancing. The goat’s partner is a bearded farmer who wants to milk it; in the very early years this character was a Jew but the company decided to change it and make it more general and universal. The goat runs very fast and tries to interact with audience; its horns are really attractive for spectators; after a while goat stops running and dies on the ground. Farmer , in silence without any music and in a sort of climax, comes and starts milking and drinking the milk, he succeeds finally; he sings and sometimes the whole group sing with him:
“Wstan ty koziuniu
Wstan ty nieboga
Zarobimy sobie poltora pieroga,
Potlora pieroga, oselke masla
Zeby sie koziuniu dobrze nam pasla”
“Get up you little goat,
Get up my poor one,
We shall make together one and a half of cabbage pie,
One and a half of cabbage pie and a whole of butterball
So that my little goat is well fattened up”
After a while the goat comes back to life and starts running again, the music starts up again, and the farmer leads the goat outside. The goat wants to come back but their scene is over and they have to make their exit out.
In a very different atmosphere, with Turkish-Arabic music and without lyrics, the next puppet, the Camel, comes with two performers; one to play the head and front two legs and the other to perform the back legs and the tail. Mutka said that “a friend gave us the music score years ago and we used that for this scene.” The camel enters and after a short walk, dies; there is always a sort of silence in each part of the work with puppets and masks, even dances and usually this silence is when a puppet dies. Wacek says: “I always look for a good moment to give audience a deep silence with puppets or masks; firstly they can have their encounter with those parts directly and secondly non-stop music can create a sort of hypnotic moment and disturb the idea of being here and now in our performances, so I really like the silent moments…”. The camel comes back to life and slowly goes out. This part with traditional puppets is over and the next part of our performance will be the masks.
Masks are used in various forms and purposes in performing arts; we can find traces of them in very early rituals and different forms of spectacular aspects. The functions of masks in rituals for example, can be religious; they may help meditating with spirits or offer a protection role to the society who utilities their power. In eastern Asian theatre, many years ago, performers used masks in order to perform Gods or a dead person who cannot be present on stage. Those mask could transfer performers to a sacred situation as well; so masks represent the characters in this case, performers must be disappeared behind them. Sometimes masks used for a part or even the whole body of performers, not only the face. Therefore in this tradition we can say masks are tools which help performers to hide, to disappear, to change their being in order to declare, to appear, to be masks spirits.
Using masks in western theatre history can be traced back to Greek theatre and has been developed non-stop till the modern times of performing arts; during years there were a various of different approaches and there were many scholars who interpreted masks in order to create a new way of using them and evantually to create new age of theatre. In Commedia del’Arte, the masks included the ancestors of modern clowns and influenced Jacques Lecoq, for example very much; he wanted to stay away from naturalized acting and used masks in order to create a non-daily face for actors. His trainings and works with masks are now a very powerful and influential style in actor’s training and he became one of the most important masters for actors and acting in twenties century. We can mention Edward Gordon Craig as well, who influenced Oscar Schlemmer, Peter Schumann and many other practitioners had been working after him. Craig proposed to use masks and puppets in order to create a theatre essentially based on visions and forms rather than words. So in this tradition, masks should help performers to change, to transfer their face and body, let’s say being, to another level that is a mixture of performers and masks; a sort of new being created by masks which is performing by performers.
In the whole twenties century, there was a sort of mission in theatre, attempting to restore a ritualistic, if not actually religious, significance to theatre and masks were always a part of it even if they were rejected. For example Grotowski never used masks in his Theatre of Productions, he believed that actors must create all masks by their faces and muscles. His work with actor’s face in Akropolis in order to create more than one role for each performer is well known and the best instance for this. He asked all actors to think about different characters, and different faces during rehearsals; they tried each session to create and keep these faces separately in their faces and finally they succeed to do it in the last rehearsals of Akropolis.
W.Staniewski, after Grotowski, never used masks in Gardzienice training and productions as well, till their new approach to Greek Theatre with production Elektra. In this performance they used masks in the same tradition I mentioned in the old western theatre rooted in Greek Theatre. After their experience in Elektra, they never came back to masks again. In post Gardzienice theatres in Poland I could find the traces of masks just in Teatr Wegajty; they are really involved in masks and a very important part of their work and the most important part of the structure of presentations always is based on working with masks. Their interest in masks started already at the first years of their work in Wegajty influenced by Commedia dell’Arte.
Masks are a very important part of work in Teatr Wegajty as I mentioned, Wacek was interested in them from the early years of his career as a theatre director. In almost all workshops and performances, they work with masks and use them. Wacek says: “I was really interested in masks from the early years in my work…I was interested in Commedia dell’Arte very much and started to use their masks in theatre…”. In my point of view according to my experiences in two main workshops, there are many reasons to describe why they use masks very often; but before analyzing their approach, let’s take a look at the mask sessions in Teatr Wegajty.
Zapusty and Masks
In Zapusty, the first working day starts with a session devoted to make masks; because this workshop is based on working with masks which are made by participants, so this is one of the most important part of Zapusty every year in Teatr Wegajty. Everybody in the group divides in couples and starts to make masks; all materials we need is prepared before, a lot of bandage that is the base material for masks, they are cut in different sizes; creams and Vaselin as well. We need to put something greasy on the face skin in order to make the process of taking off the masks easier; when it’s ready and dry after a while. Couples starts one by one and step by step leading by Mutka, she leads this mask making session. We can decide about the shape and style of our masks and the aspect we like; for example one decides to make a half face mask, the other likes a full mask without eyes and I decided a whole face mask with eyes. This part takes time and we can spend as much as time we need; the process is creative and deeply exiting, specially for people who have never made a mask and this is first time for them. Mutka is ready to help, instruct, repair and give a hand whenever we ask and need. This is a real free land and you can do whatever you like according to your creativity; it happens that some of participants afraid and worry about the process, specially those who decides to have a full masks covering their faces. I am in this situation, I feel that my partner is a bit afraid of this material which is going to cover his face completely and he would not be able to see or speak for a while at least; so I decide to do a trick, I tell him that I have made many masks and it is one of the hundred masks that I am going to make. Of course I had made masks before but not that much, anyway my trick works and he is with me in the whole process without any sort of fear. After a while, when we are done and take off masks, we should change positions and the other one should make mask as well. When all masks are ready and took off from faces, we put them somewhere and wait; they must be dry slowly near the fire. These masks will be the basis for our work on them in the day after, when they are enough dry.
The next session with masks starts and we have to make a structure for our masks; everybody has his/her own basic mask ready and can decide about how to change it and how to make something spectacular with it. This moment is very important in creative process; by decision one made, the whole process of his/her work with this mask would be done. One can exaggerate a part of the face, even change the face to an animal or makes it bigger or smaller than a real face; without any sort of restrictions, this is a realm of creativity; so a total being is needed. When we decide about the shape and idea, we start working to make our ideas in function; Mutka is always ready to give a hand and can give solutions when one doesn’t know what to do. For me this open mind creation in Wegajty is valuable, I can do whatever I like; my creative sources work; the others as well. This process can take some hours, for some of us maybe during the night too. Anyway the other day we can start working with masks and perform with them, preparing masks can always continue and there is no end for this till the last day of workshop.
Playing with masks…
Alilujka and Masks
The common process of each workshop in Teatr Wegajty will end up to a sort of meeting-performance. For example in Zapusty, the structure is made by the work on traditional songs and puppets, like goat, horse, camel and bird.
and in Alilujka, structure is made by songs which has to sing house by house during two days expedition in villages; but they need a sort of performance to put an End for event and start socializing or dancing with audience and guests who came for Zapusty. In case of Alilujka, Wacek said himself that “ we need this final gathering because people who live in village or families which we met during our work house by house, need to meet us and talk to us…”
Mask gives you security to reveal something really hidden in your character. When one wear a mask, it is like a safe place to hide, then after that moment whatever one does or says is not completely a part of one’s character but be judged as the mask’s. In this way we can say that people really likes to wear and work with masks because they simply would have this chance to reveal and touch hidden parts of themselves. From the ancient time masks have been used and were a main part of carnivals as well. Mask is something that changes you to something else and gives you a chance to be something else for a short time, another human being, an animal, a plant, a tree or even a stone or whatever one can imagine. One of the participants in Zapusty wrote: “Through the mask you really look at the world in different way. You really become different person. You look at the audience, at people from completely different perspective.”
Everything is done and presentation part of Zapusty is over; all pieces we have been working on during four days before and the main structure of the show is presented in front of the audience in the main space of theatre and hopefully the work is done. Now it’s the time for gathering, socializing, drinking and small talks; so after some minutes music starts again and this time we, all performers, come and asks spectators to dance together; the aim is transferring spectators to participants and prepare a sort of gathering together. For me it was a fantastic magic moment, when I came in front of the audience looking for a girl to ask for dance. Firstly, I have to confess that they were waiting for this moment, for most of them it was not the first time to be in Zapusty and they knew that this gathering will start with a dance session; so they were waiting for this moment specially youngsters; you could see that in the eyes. Secondly, I was the only exotic face from a country far from Poland and everybody was interested to find out who I am and what I was doing there.
Wacek and Mutka can decide which dances we should perform by music and the song they play; we know almost all songs by heart and when they start we recognize which dance they are proposing. Of course it depends on audience and their skills as well, when they like to dance and they know something then it’s easier to involve them and when they are not familiar very much with dancing skills we should start with easier dances.
Wacek during two workshops, many times advised us not to dance with each other in gathering; he said “ you are suppose to ask audience to dance and each one of you can ask and teach one audience; so don’t look for workshop members while dancing, try for new persons…”. For us it was a sort of rule in dancing, and problem comes when we were just two boys in Alilujka; sometimes there were many girls and ladies at the place and we didn’t know what to do, it seems funny but in this situation we had to be very careful and fast dancers to ask and involve everybody in action.
Zapusty presentation is a five days work, not very intensive.
A running session always starts with gathering in the main room of theatre; it suppose to be sunset or night but in case they do it in the day light, in the afternoon, as well; so we call it running instead of night running, the famous term was created in Gardzienice. I insist that running in Teatr Wegajty is deeply rooted and strongly influenced by Gardzienice but of course during years they tried to find another level of it as a creative process; they have been repeating running in order to discover what is behind it. Running is a part of all workshop’s structures, for one time at least, and as I know they do it as a regular exercise during rehearsals for performances in Teatr Wegajty as well. Wacek asks everybody to stand in a circle and then demonstrates some acrobatic exercises which be needed during running. The exercises are very simple and mostly rooted in Gardzienice’s training, the aim is to circulate blood all over the body, specially the head; and also control breathing and releasing tensions and stress of the whole body; of course all exercises based on spine and central part of the body. Acrobatics should be done in couples, permanently changing; in this way everybody has this chance to be partner with another. Then every couples should train in direction he says and see if there is a problem or any explanation needed; when everybody feels ready, running session will start. It is sometimes night, sometimes afternoon so we cannot call it night running like they name it in Gardzienice but running.
There are three main rules should be considered while running, the first is using any sort of language communication is forbidden, even pantomime; better to say daily communication is restricted. We can find the root of this non-daily communication in period of Paratheatre in Grotowski work which was somehow continued by W.Staniewski in Gardzienice while years of working with performers and students. The second rule is related to caring about each other; everybody is responsible and must be careful of everybody, not like the everyday life that everybody’s caring about him/herself. Here and now, during running, caring is one of the main tasks; creating a sort of collective action; when we run we must be partners, we must encourage ourselves to be brave; partners have to guarantee safety and focus on assisting their partners as well with offering safe arms and secure contacts. The third is the effort to find non-daily relationship, another level of communication with ourselves and the others as well; a deep effort to relate ourselves to the nature too. Relating to the nature means to be wild for a while, like an ox, a tree even a flower; naturalizing would be one of the main aims in running for sure, a term deeply related to Gardzienice and the idea of Naturalized Actor.
In one line headed by Wacek himself we start running, without Mutka, in front of the theatre through the space of parking; at this place there is a flat round space, good for gathering. In this first station, we practice acrobatics we were thought and in some minutes we continue running in a line again. Wacek is leader and everybody suppose to follow his directions. The path is up to the hill and through the forest. The whole process will last eighty five minutes, more or less always the same timing, always the same paths and the same stations; it seems unbelievable but after all these years that Wacek have been doing it all the time, there is almost the same structure, repeatable and strongly constructed, and there will be some parts in the structure of running which I try to explain one by one.
W.Staniewski once said “I always remember running as a moment of being very happy. Either that, or I was running in order to become happy. Night running is probably about happiness.” (Hidden, ?) I start running with huge amount of energy, laughing and feel happy deeply inside; each step brings me deeper and deeper and at the same time of being here and now, as much is possible, a river of associations starts to flow inside me. I think this two sides of the same coin make running a very unique creative experience for all participants; in one side I am at the present moment and in the other side, I am dealing with hundreds of memories and associations come inside.
During running, specially in the winter nights, there are some moments that we feel we cannot continue. There could be many reasons like ice in the ground, cold weather, darkness, stretched muscles, pain in the whole body and heavy breathing. In my experience as a runner, in term of sport, and also running in this sort of theatre exercises; running can bring the runner to a climax and exactly at the same time to the border of life and death. Runner can touch the extremes, extremity of breathing, of physical possibilities and extremity of the whole being. A runner always thinks to stop and leave, in term of death, and at the same time should overcome him/herself and continue, in term of life; so running is always a process of discovery. In these difficult moments, Wacek usually makes two lines of people and couples put their hands together, in this way partners can support each other energetically with a physical action; sometimes it could be in three lines with three persons, if we need more strong correlation in the group. This moment is really very strong and we can feel each other deeply, it is very hard to put this feeling in the words but it is like being a family; there are emotions within the group which can affect deeply. I remember the exact moment that I felt that I am falling down and then we divided in two lines with couples; with my partner, hands to hand, we started to fly not only run; there was huge amount of snow and ice on the ground but who cared, we were together and there was a moment of truth in both of us; a moment of being one body, one soul. I remember another moment that I never forget, a couple were running in front of me; a girl and a boy not related to each other by hands yet; girl was almost falling down and out of energy, boy was in the same mood but a bit caring about the girl as well. I decided to go and make a three body hands to hands in order to make us one body; I ran and put myself between them, hands to hands, we started to feel each other and trust came after and we became one body, one soul; after some minutes the girl was running fast, really fast, I had to control myself because it was too fast for me and we were running together like one body; three as one, it was a unique feeling we shared at that time, deeply emotional and at the same time amazingly creative. Creative because after releasing energy in this way, one has the most presence at the moment, totally here and now; with his/her all being and river of associations flows inside.
There are always some stations. Almost always the same places in the forest which Wacek sits, hides himself in the plants and tries to be an animal, a pig or an ox for example. He starts to taste leafs and some parts of trees, sometimes dust and everything he can find on the ground. The leader, always is Wacek himself, proposes the theme, the subject or the exercise related to voice or physical abilities. As W.Staniewski said “ An existential physiological act which is very realistic, becomes artistic and aesthetic.” (Hidden,?) Of course the whole process must be wordless, any sort of using languages is not permitted even pantomime or gestures. He starts to use voice and mostly making wild voices, listening very carefully to all sounds in environment as well… In the other side of this sitting together could be connecting to each other in a more primitive level of communication; he starts to play with snow or dust, depending to the season, and inviting everybody to follow him and do something to another participants. So after all, a sort of playing together starts and for a while we do it like a child related deeply to him/herself. This part is a very fruitful exercise to create a kind of correlation between participants and includes screaming in the space and sometimes hitting each other by snow or dust. This part is the only part that has a sort of sense of humor and making each other to laugh is accepted. Sometimes we go to a deep silent and feel to be a tree, without any move even for some moments; this part can lead participants to a very deep trance during running, comes after.
As the final act, we all gather at the top of the hill and lie down in order to come down the hill rotating on the surface, when everybody is ready we start rotating down to the hill. After this last part, there will be a very short path to the theatre, doing some acrobatics again, then the session is over. Running is finished and we all end up in the main room of Teatr Wegajty in order to clean up or drink and etc. Always there is something to do in the next part and we can use this energy we create during running in the process of creative work together. Running session is always mysterious , magic, unknown and very creative process for me. One of the most interesting part of trainings in Teatr Wegajty.
It is clear that the idea of running is based on Gardzienice’s and W.Staniewski but there are many differences, after all these practicing years, between them as well. The first is timing; as I mentioned before, in Wegajty it is always around eighty five minutes and in Gardzienice it is always around half an hour. The second is the level and importance of this exercise, in Gardzience they always play with a ball, using words is permitted and the whole process is less serious in term of training; it is mostly a process to release the energy remained during the day and making a good correlation as well; and I have to mention again that it is always in night and is called night running; there is usually sort of gathering, making fire, playing and doing something together as well. The third and maybe the most important difference appears in the process of naturalization; in Gardzienice it is based on going through the nature and do a session in the forest and hills in order to find their spirit again and again, of course with a group of actors or students; in Wegajty it is a sort of actors training for usually non-actors to be in and feel the nature, participants mostly are for the first time in this sort of experiences; it could be more or less a kind of Paratheatre experience itself for them, very unique and unrepeatable; to feel the creative process.
Twenty years ago, in 1989, Wacek and Mutka had an expedition to a village in north eastern part of Poland, near the border of Lithuania; this village named Dziadowek. In Dziadowek they met an old lady, called Marianna, who talked about an folkloric tradition of Easter singing and dancing house by house, Aliluja was called, which had been performing in the past years but has stopped around 1970, ten years before, and started to instinct. Wacek and Mutka decided to take a long deep journey into the history of this tradition and reconstruct all songs and dances they could find with help of almost all people living in village, specially with Marianna’s advices and taking her directions. They decided to rescue this tradition by adapting it according to modern perceptions and deconstruct a new presentation, house by house; so when they felt that they had enough materials to begin, in order to deconstruct and adapt a sort of spectacular show house by house and evening gathering using those songs and dances, they defined a workshop with members of Teatr Wegajty and youngsters as well, they named it Alilujka in memory of that tradition in Dziadowk. The first constructed Alilujka performed in 1989 of course in its motherland, Dziadowek. From that year till now Teatr Wegajty has had this workshop, gathering and presentation every year and has performed Alilujka in Dziadowek, house by house.
In April 2009, nineteenth Alilujka was deconstructed and performed by Teatr Wegajty in form of a workshop and with the concrete structure. Of course in the structure of the six days workshop, there are some repeatable parts the same as their all workshops; including working with masks, training dances and running, but the main part of Alilujka is two days performing house by house, they call it expedition as well, in two villages: Dziadowek, the homeland of this tradition, and Stabynszczyzna, a close village.
Saturday morning starts with preparing breakfast at 8 o’clock in the morning. There are many dishes from many regions prepares the day before or early in the morning; all participants suppose to make something. When breakfast is ready, Wacek comes with some pieces of bread came from church and of course sacred, offering to all participants. Then in a ceremonial way, everybody in couples starts to make good wishes for each other and sharing a part of their bread as well. As my researches show this is a very local tradition, maybe in Wegajty not in all part of the country. We were wishing good thoughts for another even if we really don’t feel it; so I see this process more or less a ceremony, than a real wishing or prayer. I remember one participant from Olsztyn, a city near that region, ate her bread at the first time and during the ceremony she had no bread to share with her wishes; so I think this must be very local costume. It takes around half an hour and then gathering round a big long table full of foods and eating the breakfast.
After breakfast there is some singing, dancing together and preparing everything for a long journey; this singing session seems to be the last rehearsal for the group and with dancing together we share positive energy and would be ready to start this final scene of the Alilujka: the expedition. I am not sure if we can call this process an expedition, I prefer to call it meeting. Firstly there is nothing new artistic even cultural things to discover in the whole process, there are some songs and dances they have reconstructed and thought us and we suppose to use them in order to interact with villagers; after eighteen years performing Alilujka, there is a strong vivid structure even for these interactions. So all discoveries are done and the word expedition does not fit this adventure anymore, I think. Secondly villagers are somehow waiting for us, when you see them in their houses, it’s clear that most of them know we are coming and were waiting for us, so there is no difficulties in making relationships and encounter at all. Thirdly everything is planned before, we know when we are in village, when we start, from which house we start, which place would be the first, even we know when we finish and go home to sleep; Grandma’s house prepared for our sleep before and the day after as well, breakfast in new village and everything else is well planned. So I doubt if we can call it an expedition because in an expedition we are looking for something spectacular, songs or dances or etc, and that’s why we do it; also we shouldn’t know exactly all details of our journey through the place and culture we are facing, this process itself could be a big adventure; and of course when we are not well prepared before, people are not waiting for us and we can imagine a sort of interaction, encounter between locals and new comers.
At 12 o’clock the Alilujka expedition in 2009 starts with twelve participants, including Wacek and Mutka in two cars; a Van belongs to Wacek and Theatre and a car belongs to a participant. The weather is sunny and very nice, everybody is happy. I sit near the window enjoying the landscapes, my friends are singing. It’s around two O’clock , Wacek stops the Van and says this is lunch time and we have to wait for the others in another car to come as well. One hour we spend for lunch in a very beautiful landscape with spring sun, food of course is the same as breakfast and some sandwiches we prepared from day before as well. I lay down for some minutes on the ground and grass to relax, then take a short walk through the area to meet local people. Around 6:30pm, after a long driving day, we are finally in Dziadowek; sun is shining and day light gives us energy to start house by house performing. Wacek shows us the place we sleep for the night; this is Marianna’s cottage in village, she was died three years ago when she was eighty three years old but her sun knows the company and gave this chance to us to sleep in the place.
Everybody has an instrument, Wacek plays his accordion as always, Mutka has her flute, clarinet and violin, most of us have a sort of rhythmical instruments; I have an Indian one (Indian dancers use this with their foot to make rhythm and sound during tap dancing) so we start playing and singing while walking to the first house. We are in the yard of the first house and Wacek selected a very happy rhythmical song; the host lady comes out and says hello. I can see in her face that she was waiting for us, it is not a surprise for her at all, even she is ready to accept us; so she invites us inside. We go inside while singing, she offered us vodka, some cakes, eggs and some meat and kubasa(sausage) as well.
There are two different costumes in general perspective, for hosts; sometimes they invite us inside and offer us something to eat and drink, so we have time to sing and sit for a small talk with them and the other way is to accept us in the yard, in this way we suppose to dance with them instead of talking. Drinking vodka of course is always the main part in all places; leaders of workshop advised us many times about drinking because after a while you can be simply drunk and it would be awful when you have six or seven houses one after another. Offering eggs is a very usual costume as well, egg is a symbol of reborn and the main idea of Alilujka is to celebrate transferring from winter to spring time, so eggs are always in our basket; we carry a special basket for those things the villagers give us.
Songs are somehow very important. How to choose them? Which song is useful now for the present situation? Sometimes it is night and the host is resting even sleeping, we need a soft song to start very cute relationship; for example imagine that we go to meet a family who lost a member, we do not need a very happy rhythmical song as well. Therefore, it is really important which song fits with the present moment; Wacek and Mutka during years and long deep experiences have learnt this and they always lead this decisions of course.
The second house belongs to a widow and her big family; we enter the yard singing another happy song and they come out immediately, it’s clear that they were waiting for us. This time the lady prepares a small table in the yard with vodka and cakes on it; it means that we are suppose to dance and sing with them. Her sons come to us and offer a shot of vodka, most of us accept and there will come another shot by the other son; I reject kindly with a good argument: “ I am Muslim , sorry…” suddenly I hear a lady’s voice from behind speaking Polish with an accent that I cannot understand even a word; she comes to me and asks for dance, of course I should accept kindly, and I do. Maybe this is time to explain the role and structure of dancing in workshops in Teatr Wegajty.
Dances are very simple and very useful as well in the process of all workshops in Tear Wegajty. Firstly I have to confess that all dances, more or less, are very simple structured in a way that everybody even who doesn’t know anything about rhythms or dancing, can overcome and practicd these dances. I remember when in the first evening training of Zapusty we started to dance, there were one girl and one boy who didn’t know anything about dancing and had a kind of resistance to join the dancers but after some minutes they joined and even enjoyed dancing simply because dances were very easy structured specially for beginners and of course non-actors who are mainly participants of the workshops. Secondly during dancing together we can create collective energy very soon and simple, a very deep correlation between participants as well; that’s why Wacek starts the first meeting in the first evening, always with dancing session. He always says “ Let’s see what do you have in your bodies…” and then everything starts. Thirdly, in the other hand we can use dancing skills in presentations in order to communicate with spectators and invite them to participate in the action; of course dances are the main part of all gatherings before and after presentations. I have to confess that dance session is the best final part of the whole workshop process as well, that participants can release all their remained energy in that. Therefore, we can see that dances are very useful in different levels, now let’s see more details in the individual work with dances.
Dances comes from different courtiers; Lithuania, Ukraine, Belorussia, Greece, Great Britain and of course Poland. The methodology of collecting these dances were very simple; during years in Teatr Wegajty, they had many participants from different countries and in collaboration with them, they have learnt dances. Once Wacek said “ we had a group of performers from Lithuania and they showed us many dances and we kept those dances in our work…”.There were some foreigner performers working in Wegajty as well, for example Marynka from Ukraine was one of the main actresses there for many years. These foreigners brought some dances from their countries too. I am trying to say that the idea of reconstructing forgotten or dying traditions in order to deconstruct and adapt a spectacular show, was applied to dances as well but this time not only in Poland. In the area of border between Belorussia and Lithuania and Poland there is strongly Polish culture independent of political borders and there were many expeditions have done in order to find Polish identity in these areas, specially in seventies and eighties.
Wacek asked us to use dances in order to communicate with spectators and transform them to participants, a more active level; so we suppose not to dance with each other but find a partner between audience and dance with them. At first of course nobody knows dances and steps and it would be better if we choose some partners and begin to dance and show them steps, then we can all dance together. During theoretical discussions and explanation I never found what that meant but in Zapusty it was amazingly working.
Dzienkujemy za te dary,
Co zescie nam darmo dali.
Darmo dali, a nie zalowali,
Zebyscie sie za to do nieba dostali
Thank you for all gifts,
That you have given us for free,
Given for free, and not regretted,
For this, We hope you may enter heaven
Siwa raba zieziulenka,
Siwa raba zieziulenka,
Hej lolem lolem, zieziulenka.
Wszystkie lasy okowala,
Hej lolem lolem okowala.
Tylko w jednym nie bywala,
Hej lolem lolem, nie bywala.
A w teym lesie jelen stoi,
Hej lolem lolem, jelen stoi.
A u jelenia dziewiec rogi,
Hej lolem lolem, dziewiec rogi.
Na dziesiatym kuznia stoi,
Hej lolem lolem, kuznia stoi.
A w tej kazni kowal kuje,
Hej lolem, lolem, kowal kuje.
Wykujze mi zloty pierscien,
Hej lolem, lolem, zloty pierscien
Zloty pirescien, zloty wieniec,
Hej lolem, lolem, zloty wieniec.
Zloty wieniec, zloty kubek,
Hej lolem, lolem, zloty kubek.
A w tym wiencu zaruczacca,
Hej lolem, lolem, zaryczacca.
A w pierscieniu slubowacca,
Hej lolem, lolem, slubowacca.
A w tym kubku miod, wino pici,
Hej lolem, lolem, wino pici.
Ty gosposiu badz wesola,
Hej lolem, lolem, badze wesola.
Wez kluczyki, skocz do stola,
Hej lolem, lolem, do stola.
A do stola do szafeczki,
Hej lolem, lolem, do szafeczki.
Przynies dla nas flaszke gorza teczki,
Hej lolem, lolem, flaszke gorzaleczki.
My gorzalke wypijemy,
Hej lolem, lolem, Wypijemy.
Tobie pani podziekujemy,
Hej lolem lolem, podziekujemy.
U jeziora, u bialego, kleczy krolewna u niego,
Ty krolewno czego kleczysz, czemu bystra wode smecisz,
A ja klecze tu dlatego, czekam smoka ogromnego,
Slonce zaszlo, miesiac wyszedla, smok ogromny z wody wyszedl,
Alleluja, alleluja (Dragon comes)
Trzysta armat nabijajcie, tego smoka zabijajcie
Tzysta armat wysterzelili, nic smokowi nie zrobili
Swety Jerzy z luku swego zabil smoka ogromnego,
Alleluja, alleluja (Dragon falls down)
Sto par koni zalozyli, smoka z mieysca nie ruszyli,
Swety Jerzy zaprzagl swego, wywiazl smoka ogromnego,
Alleluja, alleluja (Dragon wakes up)
Wywiozk jego niedaleczko, cztery mile za miasteczko
Jak sie patactwo dowiedzialo, cztery lata lywnosc mialo,
By the lake, by the white, a princess is kneeling
Oh princess, why do you kneel, why do you cloud the water
I am kneeling for I’m waiting for a huge dragon
The sun set down, the moon went up, and the huge dragon emerged from the water
Alleluja, alleluja (dragon comes out)
Load three hundred cannons, and slay this dragon!
They have fired three hundred cannon, but did not harm the dragon
Saint Jerzy drow his bow, and had killed the huge dragon
Alleluja, alleluja (dragon falls down)
They have harnessed one hundred pairs of horses, but could not move the dragon,
Saint Jerzy harnessed his only horse and carried the dragon away,
Alleluja, alleluja (dragon wakes up)
He carried him not far, four miles outside the town
When the birds’ve learned about it, they had food for four years,
Teatr Piesn Kozla
Teatr Piesn Kozla founders, Grzegorz and Anna have made a brave decision when decided to establish their own theatre in a city; a city which had many alternative companies and was very famous as well in the field of theatre because of Tear Laboratorium and its twenty five years activities. As I mentioned before, W.Staniewski and his colleagues established The Center for Theatre Practices in Gardzienice which was an unknown village at that time in eastern part of Poland; they wanted to go out of city, streets, buildings; they ran away from conventional theatres, spectators and actors. They started to live in nature and preparing naturalized actors with special trainings in the forest, hills and untouched natural environment; at the same time doing expeditions and socializing with villagers in order to learn songs, exchange culture and find the Polish identity which was lost at that time, or at least they thought it was lost during recent political history. They never accepted by villagers very well, there was always a deeply strong conflict in their work in the villages even in Gardzienice, the village that they live in it; they invited their own spectators from cities and university professors, anthropologists, critics theatrologists and etc. In fact they were living in a village but working for cities, even we can say universities and critics; their work and productions were extremely intellectual and deeply
13 Rows Theatre
Apocalipsis Cum Figuris
Teatr Piesn Kozla
Edward Gordon Craig